A swastika was painted on Temple Sinai’s carved wooden door in Oakland in 2020. (Photo/Courtesy Temple Sinai)
A swastika was painted on Temple Sinai’s carved wooden door in Oakland in 2020. (Photo/Courtesy Temple Sinai)

Jews on uncertain alert ahead of planned ‘National Day of Hate’

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The word has been circulating among Jews on social media, in WhatsApp chats and via email: A white supremacist group is calling for a “National Day of Hate” this Saturday and encouraging antisemites to vandalize and deface Jewish institutions.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the campaign is being pushed by a small white supremacist group in Iowa called Crew-319, in conjunction with other extremist groups.

A report from the Secure Community Network, a national group that coordinates security for Jewish institutions, said, “It should be noted, online chatter surrounding the campaign has remains limited and we assess, as in the past, this will not likely be a widespread event.”

“This so-called ‘National Day of Hate’ appears to be a publicity stunt intended to boost the visibility of antisemitic activities these groups have been field-testing for the past year,” Rafi Brinner, director of community security at the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund in San Francisco, told J.

Information about the antisemitic campaign was first provided by the Chicago Police Department and a “situational awareness alert” with a New York Police Department insignia that advised local Jewish communities to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

The NYPD bulletin also shared one of the hate group’s messages, which called for “MASS ANTI-SEMITIC ACTION.” The message urged followers to “shock the masses with banner drops, stickers, fliers, and graffiti,” and to film their activities.

The ADL confirmed that the hate message in the NYPD bulletin is authentic and comes from Crew-319’s channel on the social network Telegram, which is popular with extremists. Law enforcement and security agencies in the Chicago and New York City areas, however, say that as of Thursday afternoon, there are no known concrete threats to Jewish institutions.

Online, there has been an outpouring of anxiety from Jews sharing the news of the threatened antisemitic action.

The alert came roughly a week after two Jews exiting morning prayer services were shot on consecutive days in Los Angeles, allegedly by a man with antisemitic motives. Last fall, two men were arrested in Penn Station for threatening violence against New York City synagogues, and weeks earlier, police in New Jersey warned synagogues in the state about a “credible threat.”

Crew-319, the group behind the antisemitic initiative, is a “tiny Iowa-based neo-Nazi crew that distributes propaganda and engages in antisemitic stunts,” Oren Segal, vice president of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, told JTA. Segal said that on Sept. 11, 2022, a member of the group drove a U-Haul truck hung with posters reading “Jews did 9/11” through Des Moines.

In recent months, hate groups have targeted Jews with fliers, graffiti and in-person protests. The Goyim Defense League, one of the country’s most visible hate groups, has distributed antisemitic fliers in Jewish communities across the country. Founded by a Petaluma native, the group has been responsible for multiple incidents across the country, including antisemitic flyers in Bay Area neighborhoods from Berkeley to Santa Rosa and beyond, and a banner on a Los Angeles freeway saying “Kanye was right.” The group’s propaganda reportedly inspired the suspect in the L.A. shootings.

The antisemitic activity also comes amid a national rise in extremist violence. An ADL study published Thursday found that the proportion of mass shootings tied to extremism has risen significantly over the last decade.

Brinner, who said he’d fielded “dozens” of local calls from concerned groups, also sent out an email to community organizations with tips on how to handle harassers.

“These stunts and provocations are part of a larger effort to normalize hate-speech, racism and antisemitism,” he told J. “We can blunt their impact by not taking the bait. If hate groups show up on your property with megaphones or banners or otherwise obstruct access to your religious services, do not engage. Call the police on them instead.”

Andrew Lapin

Andrew Lapin is the Managing Editor for Local News at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

JTA

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